salafist skies

words mariam bazeed & images marguerite dabaie 

Direct flights from New York to Egypt are known to be harrowing. Harrowing, that you are in a tin can from a fleet as old as you are. And then there are the peculiarities of specifically Egypt air flights. The food. Bad dye-jobs on the female attendants, mustaches on the male attendants, and black heavy bags under the eyes of your pilot, his English heavily-accented and translated literally from the Arabic, resulting in lines like, “iff Allah willz itt, we land. Za temberitchar will be…”.

And so it was with these lowered expectations that I found myself walking to the very back of the plane, past business class, past the first economy section, past the second economy section, past the rotting elephant carcass with the African vultures circling and cawing overhead section, past some more seats, and all the way to the last one, right next to the galley kitchen, and a generous three inches away from one of the two bathrooms for the entire rear section of the plane. Determined to remain positive about my homecoming experience, I thought, "At least it's a window seat, and at least the seat next to it is empty. I'll stretch out and sleep." I sat down with the abandon of a two-seated passenger on a flight that, pre-revolution and its subsequent collapse of tourism, would have been a full, high-season flight.

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